20th Century, Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: Shakin’ the Blues Away in bright yellow

The ratings for last weeks pink and black 1890s Worth gown were very different, but everyone agreed on one thing: you DON’T like swag!  Yes, that unfortunate swath of beading dragged the rating down to a 5.7 out of 10, pretty dismal for a Worth.

When I asked for Rate the Dress suggestions someone mentioned film costumes.  It’s been a while since I’ve featured a film costume, and only once before have I shown one with a clip, so you could Rate the Dress in motion.

So here is Anne Miller Shakin’ the Blues Away in 1948’s Easter Parade (starring Judy Garland and Fred Astaire)

I’m going to confess right out that I love this clip.  I’m having post-awesomeness blues at the moment, and what better way to shake them off than with a bright yellow and black dress and some fabulous dancing?

I won’t be drawn on whether the dress itself is fabulous.  That’s for you to decide.  I know you haven’t been the biggest fans of yellow and black in the past.  And you don’t always love mid-20th century historicism (Easter Parade is set in 1912).  And you don’t like things you can compare to curtains.

But maybe you’ll love the flair and theatricality of the outfit.  The saucy lace trimmed stockings.  The perfectly fitted bodice.  And the way the skirt goes from sophisticated drape to showgirl short with just a tug.

So what do you think?  Is the dress as good as the dancing?

Rate the Dress on a scale of 1 to 10



  1. There’s nothing I specifically dislike about this dress (and I LOVE the stockings!) but it’s a little simple and sort of boring? I know, I know, it does that cute little conversion and it’s got those black ribbons on the side and the bodice is well-fitted and not too sparkly. But it just kind of falls flat for me. I like things with lots of detail and the flat possibly-too-bright-yellow fabric used does nothing for me. There’s something to be said about simplicity, especially in a dancing costume, but still. I like it well enough but I’m not excited by it. For being cute and clever and friendly: 6/10

    • Completely agree. Even with the rating, I think; it moves lovely in the back.

      But oh, the dancing! This is not the sort of thing I normally watch or enjoy (I’m spoiled by my sister’s love for kathak and enjoy other sorts of dance), but oh, the dancing!

  2. ellipsisknits says

    Burlesque can be good, but this is too loud and trashy

  3. I like the dress, but I don’t love the dress. It is too “generic costume” for me – it looks more intended for the background dancers than the star. I don’t mind the yellow/black combo because it is bright and looks nice on stage, and I do like the way the skirt moves when she dances, but overall there is nothing really special that would make it memorable (in a good or bad way).


  4. Terese says

    The dress is just okay. Although, it does look somewhat comfy to dance in and, as a former dancer, that is worth $$$. Like the first poster, I like the stockings much more than the actual dress. It gets a 4/10 mostly because it does look a well-fitted brothel curtain.

    PS – What is with the weird arm movements that were so much in vogue at this time? The strange held-at-bar-height arms and fluttery hands? Not graceful and frankly, uncomfortable to do. *shudder*

  5. Okay, I’ll bite the proverbial bullet here. I actually kinda like it, in the “Oh I would never wear that but it looks good on someone else kind of way.” It could be that I was a dancer and I definitely appreciate the ingenuity of the dress, but I’m not sure. I think it has potential… potentially.

    7.5/10 for potential.


    • Elise says

      I used to dance, too! I totally get what you’re saying about how it’s good for dancing. I like the yellow and black contrast against the stage background–if only she had a yellow flower on her head! Otherwise it feels unbalanced.


      • Elise, I think you hit it right on the head! It needs balance in the head region and then it would be nearly perfect. I also appreciate that they didn’t fall into the typical black or red colour schemes.


  6. Zach says

    I love the shape of the dress, though it isn’t very 1912, is it? I’m going to go ahead and say that I hate most yellows. Especially electric yellow. If it goes more to a golden hue or a light pastel yellow, its okay, but straight primary yellow? No thanks. That said, I think it works out okay here. I can’t really imagine any other color with the black that would look as nice/bright and sunny. I love the way it’s draped in the front. I’m not a fan of halter tops, though, but this one is okay. Also, I wonder if that’s her real hair in the back…it’s rather dark.

    Seven and a half out of ten.

    • I’ve watched and watched that clip, trying to figure out the hair thing, and I’ve finally decided that I’m really hoping it isn’t even supposed to be hair. Because if it is – well, that’s the worst hairpiece ever!

  7. I agree with T. Sedai. It’s a fine theater costume, but kind of generic by modern standards. (It was probably very daring and novel in its day.) So 7.5 of 10.

  8. Gosh, that’s a lot of leg.
    I love the stockings. The dress itself is rather reminiscent of something a mid-west jazz or tap class would choose for a recital: Nothing special.

    7.5/10 (10/10 for the legs, 5/10 for rest of the costume)

  9. 10/10 for teh stockings!! How gorgeous are they!! Burlesque lasses, take note, this is not difficult to achieve and packs a real punch!
    I wanted her to rip the yellow off, really badly, because it looked transient. I imagine somehow that the costume was meant to be the black one piece, and the director or someone said an hour before shooting – no it needs colour and it needs more movement, so the costumier fossicked around in her stash, found some yellow stuff and sort of threw it together. It lacks the detailing of the typical costumes of the time, like the yellow drape in the front isn’t deeply ruched and curved enough, that sort of thing.
    It’s wrong for these reasons, but black and yellow, hey it would be unpatriotic to turn my nose up at my city’s colours!
    So, averaging out the FAB black bits and the meh yellow bits, I’m about a 6 on this one.

  10. I don’t really like the colour combo; too much of a contrast. I’d love to know how she didn’t get dizzy near the end; I’d be falling over!
    I’d give it a 6, mostly for the way the skirt works; would have been more if the colour had been nicer.

  11. Stella says

    I love the stockings. I’m a total sucker for cool stockings. I also appreciate how clever the skirt is. But I don’t like it. Even the fact that it’s in Phoenix colours can’t make me warm to it. To me, the skirt and bodice don’t look like they belong together. It looks like the designer wrapped a length of yellow skirt around a bustier and called it a day without any thought for how the two elements should be unified. I don’t see any theme here, just two unrelated pieces that don’t connect in any way. 3/10, because I do like the colours (Phoenix FTW!), but it’s disjointed and basically looks like a Friday afternoon job.

  12. Daniel says

    5/10. Not really excited about it, not really disliking it, just not bothered – but the wearer’s sheer joy and effervescence is 10/10!!

  13. Natalie says

    Oh one of my favorite movies! But, Le sigh. The costuming in the movie has always disturbed me. Lay aside the fact that it doesn’t even try to represent 1912 and you still have some pretty ugly costumes. I always felt sorry for Judy. The costume designer must have really had it out for her 🙁

    But as to this specific one, I don’t find it half bad. It is interesting and I do adore the stockings. A different color than yellow would have perhaps been nice but considering the song and feel of the dance I think the yellow is right.


  14. I was thrown a curve-ball by the indulgence of film liberties here. I mean, it looked like a failed steampunk costume.
    I liked rewinding back to the Edwardian dress folks sitting in the box, smiling down: Wow, is this 1940s or what?
    The costume designer: “Let’s throw in a little gathered apron, that will make it modest and Edwardian. Yeah, .”
    Now the dancing was great and I was impressed at how she didn’t trip or stepped on the train of her costume.
    Thank you, Dreamstress for adding the video for the rating.

  15. Cornelia Moore says

    hmmm. tap dance with theatrical glad-hands. not my cup of tea, and not the best tapping I’ve ever seen. the dress is fairly nice while pinned up, don’t care for the curtain effect when it’s dropped, though, and yes, it could have worked with another primary color. or even a pastel. don’t mind the mix, but not terribly exciting, either. 4/10 because the dress is a fairly nice cut.

  16. Lynne says

    I like yellow and black. The stockings are wonderful (so are the legs, mind!), the fit is super – looks like a lot of lycra, and it can’t be, just excellent fit. Nice wee dip in the yellow skirt over the bottom – goes with the drape in the front.

    I hear the objections, but it is a ray of sunshine! 8/10

  17. Hayley says

    Oh I do love it, what a nifty dancing outfit!

    But eye-watering yellow on a redhead? And it needs a tad more decoration, apart from the t0-die-for stockings it looks like it’s been put together for a highschool show.

    6/10, but on a black-haired woman and tarted up a bit, 9/10

  18. Maire Smith says

    I really liked it. 9/10. One point off for being very slightly too long to dance in comfortably at the back, by about an inch. I think it does what it does perfectly, and the back of the bodice is just fantastic.

  19. The whole movie bugged me in that it seemed like there was a shortage of 1912’s costumes so they dumped a bunch of 1940s stuff in there. And this dress looks like a bathing suit with a beach wrap….which makes the gloves look dumb. I’m guessing they were trying to make it look like she was dancing in her corset? 1/10

  20. Becky says

    I really like this costume! It’s just so 1940’s Hollywood Does Historical. I mean really, the costumes in the movie have nothing to do with the era they portray. Having said that, it’s not the best costume in the movie. It is, however, one of the most spectacular sequences in movie history, IMO. Who can be unhappy after watching Ann Miller Shake Her Blues Away? I’ll be humming the rest of the day….

    An interesting side note. Ann Miller fell and broke her back just days before filming this dance sequence. In true ‘the show must go on’ spirit (not to mention the scary thought of being out of a job) she still filmed the entire dance, wearing a back brace. Can you imagine?!

    I’ll give it an 8, mostly because I adore the movie!

  21. Laura says

    Darn, I forgot to vote last week, for I in fact did not think the schwag detracted from the Worth.

    So, this week… Hmm, pretty indifferent about the black and yellow dress. I’d be tempted to give it a 5 for “meh”, but oh dear, the appliques on the tights are so very much the best thing ever. Since I think the whole ensemble should be taken together, those hose appliques will push this into the territory of an 8/10 for me.

  22. I think if we can agree that a) the point of the costume is not the dress but Anne’s legs and b) the point of the film costuming was not to represent the time period accurately but to be musical-magical-Hollywood, the whole prospect seems a lot brighter. The costume has movement and the simplicity of the design puts the focus on Anne, not the clothes–as it should be in a scene like this. My only complaint is that the yellow is a little neon for good taste, but I do wonder if this had something to do with the color technology of film of the time–if you saw the costume in real life, would the yellow be less nuclear? I can only hope so.

    I’m granting a 7/10 for a costume that does its job well, but doesn’t provide a ton of wow factor beyond that.

  23. Joie de Vivre says

    I like it! I LOVE the stockings in particular, but I love the bright colours and floaty skirt and the dropped bodice line at the back and well, lots about it. 8/10.

  24. Jane says

    I have always loved this dress and how Ann moves in it. It’s slinky and swanky and so is she.

  25. misha millsap says

    This is hands down, one of my top 10 all time favorite costumes!I absolutely love this look! The stockings are everything! The black and yellow combination, AMAZING, AMAZING! the impeccable fit of the bodice, and the drape of the skirt, FLAWLESS!
    10’s across the board

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